Camp Cliffview helping kids with disabilities defy odds

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UNICOI CO., Tenn (WJHL)- Camp Cliffview is a free camp for special needs children in our region.

Ziplining, playing soccer, and rock climbing are activities some parents with children with special needs thought they may never see their children do. Camp Clifview is helping those children defy those odds.

Co-founder of the camp and occupational therapist, Helen Berry, said she and Ashleigh Dalton started the camp six years ago.

“We just noticed that a lot of our kids, a lot of our patients, went to school, they came to therapy, and they went to doctors appointments, and that was a lot of what they did. They didn’t have any other outings. They didn’t do anything else. We love the outdoors and we want to offer that to our kids. So Camp Cliffview was born. They get to swim, they get to do the zipline, and they get to do the climbing wall,” said Berry.

Kids like 13-year-old Gracie Caudill are able to do these types of activities with the help of therapists and volunteers.

Gracie was born 23 weeks premature according to her mom Michelle Caudill. Michelle said that Gracie just wants to be like any other kid.

“She developed a brain bleed whished caused her to have Cerebral palsy. She’s been in a wheelchair now for three or four years. We used to just carry her around. I didn’t even know about the camp until we got to Nicwanger therapy, and I didn’t even know that this was an option for her. Last year was her first year at camp and she was way more visually impaired. Both times she says this is the best day of my life,” said Caudill.

Camp Cliffview is held at Appalachian Christian Camp in Unicoi, TN and has a camp in July and September.

Over 80 volunteers help with the therapist-referred camp.

Co-founder Berry says that sponsors help with the $15,000 it takes to run each camp so that it remains free to campers.

Michelle is grateful for the experiences her daughter Gracie gets to have through the camp.

“She just gets to do so much there. Things that I didn’t even think was possible for her. As a mom, to see your kid limited and you want to try to fix things for them, when you have a camp for them it’s just wonderful She want to do all the things she sees other kids doing and just because she’s sitting in that wheelchair that doesn’t mean she’s not thinking about all those things that everybody else is doing. She wants to do them as well, and this camp has given her an opportunity to do a lot of those things,” said Caudill.

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